music · Songwriting

The Melody Of The Expression

On my run this morning I was listening to a conversation between T-Bone Burnett and Rick Rubin. T-Bone is a musician and record producer, and Rick Rubin has an impressive CV as a producer.
They were talking about the way that lyrics have their own inherent rhythm – and sometimes for example, a lyric will have a particular feel to it that suggests it should be repeated. A hook line. It might be that the lyric is the heart of the song, and needs to be repeated. Or it might be that it just has a feel about it that is chant-like.

T-Bone then said “it’s the melody of the expression.” There’s something about words that suggest the pace of a song, or whether the melody should be bright or melancholy. Think of Jimmy Webb’s song ‘Up, up and away.’ The melody does exactly that – it goes up … and then seems to float when he gets to the line ‘… in my beautiful balloon.’

So on the way back from my run I thought I would try it. I looked up at the trees on my street and sang :
I see you up in the trees. (the melody going up on the word ‘up’)
So I carried on: I see you up in the clouds
Then, why not have: I see you everywhere I go
So it’s logical to sing: Your face is always on my mind
and then: The traces you have left behind

All in about 20 seconds. I wonder if this will result in a song. In my mind, the last line couldn’t have been anything else, and it’s strange how that line then determines where the song is going.
It’ll have to be about a) Someone who has died (Not again please! I’ve wrtitten too many of those)
or b) A lost love.

I think it will be lost love. I need to write a happy song one day. Oh Well.

Back to T-Bone. He made the observation that (in America, that is), the canned music that you hear in supermarkets and shopping centres tends to be from the 60’s. The 60’s was a time of great change and at the same time great optimism. So many of the songs reflect that mood, and it was a time when the music industry was young.

It seems that there is a tendency for movements and organisations to feel fresh at the beginning, but over time become jaded and bound by the pressures of success.

So – tasks ahead
1) Continue the song from above …
2) Write a happy song.
3) Write a song about songwriting with the line ‘The melody of the expression’

Ron Sexsmith has a song about songwriting. here it is: This Song

I brought a song into this world
Just a melody with words
It trembles here before my eyes
How can this song survive

I brought it to the tower of gold
In my coat of many holes
I came unarmed, they’ve got knives
How can this song survive

Oh now, I can’t help wondering how it is
How someone like you exists
When all around you bullets fly
You don’t seem to notice them go by
How can this song survive

Oh now, I see the game I’m up against
No wonder I feel so afraid
For every song you ever heard
How many more have died at birth
Oh how, how can this song survive

I brought a song into this world
Just a melody with words
It trembles here before my eyes
How can this song survive
I came unarmed
They’ve all got knives
How can this song survive
Until we finally say goodbye
How, how can this song survive
I wonder how, I wonder why

Songwriters: SEXSMITH, RON
Publisher: Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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